How Tunisia is Taking Big Steps Towards Ending Sexual Violence

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By: Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International USA, Country Specialist for Morocco and the Western Sahara

This past week I traveled to Tunisia to watch my colleagues from Amnesty Tunisia hand deliver over 198,000 signed petitions from Amnesty International members worldwide, calling on the Tunisian authorities to end discrimination against women and girl survivors of sexual violence. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Discrimination is not natural; it is learned: Ending violence against women

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Sometimes when I’m in a group of women, I find myself silently ticking us off by sets of three: one, two, three; one, two, three.  Statistically, I know, 1 in 3 of us will be raped, beaten, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.  Such statistics can often ring hollow, but when I count off in my head, I’m thinking of real women; real lives; real suffering. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

It’s Your Body: Know Your Rights!

Reproductive Rights Activists Hold Stand Up For Women's Health Rally In DC

Because of discrimination, violence against women, less access to education, and an intersection of additional human right abuses, women and girls are disproportionately affected when sexual and reproductive rights are denied (Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images).

By Tarah Demant, Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Today, nearly 3,000 people will be infected with HIV.  Yet, only 34% of young people in developing countries can answer five basic questions about HIV and how to prevent it.

Around the world, one woman dies every 90 seconds from complications of pregnancy or childbirth—more than 350,000 women every year.  The vast majority of these deaths are preventable—child marriage, unsafe and unprotected sex, and inadequate care during pregnancy all contribute to this alarming number.

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth, gender-based violence and AIDS are among the leading causes of mortality for young people. Complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries.

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Not a Billion More

One Billion Rising

I was in Delhi on December 17 when tens of thousands marched in solidarity to support a young victim of rape.

On the evening of December 16, this young woman and her friend boarded a bus to return home after watching a movie. Her friend was attacked, while she was assaulted and raped by five men on the bus. Both were then left to die on the side of a busy street. Her injuries were so severe, that she succumbed to them a few weeks later.

Angered by her plight, thousands took to the streets to demand justice and accountability from a system that they think routinely ignores issues around women’s safety. Subsequently, the Indian government showed uncharacteristic speed in apprehending and trying the suspects. And now substantial efforts are under way to overhaul the country’s legal, social, and cultural response to violence against women.

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Congress’ New Year’s Resolution Should Be to Pass an Inclusive VAWA

VAWA rally in washington dcAs Congress gets ready to take its holiday break, time is running out to pass an inclusive Violence Against Women Act that protects ALL communities.

Talks between Congressional leadership in the House and the Senate continued over the weekend with no final agreement announced yet.  Republican leadership is still refusing to include crucial provisions to protect Native women from violence.  But with less than two weeks until the end of the year, Congress MUST act quickly to pass a just and fair VAWA that is inclusive of ALL communities, including Native American and Alaska Native women. Last week, Sarah Deer, an Assistant Professor at William Mitchell College of Law and a member of Amnesty International USA’s Native American and Alaska Native Maze Advisory Council, provided an update on what is at stake if  the Tribal provisions are left out of VAWA. Sarah appeared on MSNBC over the weekend to discuss the realities of violence against Native women and why it is so critical for the Tribal provisions to be part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Watch the short clip here and then take action by calling Majority Leader Cantor at 202.225.2815 and telling him to pass a VAWA that protects everyone, including Native women.

It’s Never Too Late for Justice: Standing with the Women of Indonesia

Indonesian laws need to be reformed to help overcome discriminatory practices © Amnesty International

For many of us, Indonesia may seem to be a country recovered. We may recall the conflicts in Aceh, Papua and Timor-Leste in the late 1990s, or even the violence that ravaged the country in 1965. We may think of it as a country split asunder into more peaceful parts, a region struck by a tsunami that showed its strength to recover, or the former temporary residence of President Barack Obama.

For many of us, Indonesia is a country on the other side of the planet, whose human rights challenges perhaps don’t make us sit up and take notice compared to the acute and current crises we hear flit through our TV news.

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We Get It

amnesty bus shelter afghan women

Amnesty Ad in Chicago

As the NATO summit gets underway tomorrow in Chicago, Amnesty International USA will host a “Shadow Summit”with leading Afghan women’s rights activists to remind NATO of the conversation it should be having on Afghan women’s human rights.

The shadow summit poster, which features the words “Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan” and “NATO: Keep the Progress Going!” has generated some controversy over the last few days.  You can guess which sentence triggered the controversy.

Some are asking, is Amnesty now a cheerleader for NATO?  Does Amnesty support the war?  What was Amnesty thinking?!

The shadow summit — and the poster — is directed at NATO, not to praise it, but to remind the leaders who will be discussing Afghanistan’s future this weekend about what is really at stake if women’s rights to security, political participation and justice are traded away or compromised.

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Afghan Women to NATO: Don’t Bargain Our Rights Away

afghan women at school

Afghan teacher Meher Afroza with her students at an Islamic school in Kabul. Under the Taliban, few girls attended school. Today 3 million girls go to school, and 20 percent of university of graduates are women. (Photo: ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

World leaders, dignitaries and reporters will convene in Chicago next week for the 2012 NATO summit, and among the urgent questions they will consider is that of Afghanistan’s future after the 2014 withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops.

Yet Afghanistan’s female leaders were denied a place at the table for these critical discussions—despite Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s promise that the United States would not forsake the rights of Afghan women.

Indeed, recent developments signal that the significant but tenuous gains Afghan women have made over the past decade are mere bargaining chips in negotiations between U.S., Afghan and Taliban leaders seeking to expedite the transition to Afghan rule. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has proposed a program of “reintegration and reconciliation” with the Taliban that holds grim implications for women and girls, and in March he briefly endorsed an edict issued by a council of clerics that would allow husbands to beat their wives in certain situations and encourage gender segregation in workplaces and schools.

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Faxes Jammed! Guatemalan Government Responds to Our Actions for Norma Cruz

Norma Cruz

Norma Cruz

Earlier this week, we started an exciting new faxjam action – calling on our members and Facebook and Twitter supporters around the world to send a fax to the Attorney General of Guatemala on behalf of human rights defender Norma Cruz.

Last night we spoke to Norma, the leader of the women’s rights organization Fundación Sobrevivientes, who has received repeated death threats because of her work supporting victims of violence against women and calling for those responsible to be prosecuted.

And the news is good – the authorities are really taking notice.

Norma told us that on Tuesday (the day after we started jamming faxes), the Presidential Commission on Human Rights phoned her to check on her security situation. They said that they were checking because they had heard about the Amnesty International campaign – the campaign that you have all been a part of.

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